Sun, Jan 09, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Lee confirms trip to Bush's DC bash

PRESIDENT'S MAN Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh quashed rumors yesterday when he said that he will attend US President George W. Bush's inauguration

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) is to represent the government at US President George W. Bush's upcoming inauguration, Lee said yesterday, confirming media reports on his trip.

Lee said yesterday that he would land in California to attend a conference in Santa Barbara before departing for Washington, DC.

He is slated to arrive in the US capital on Jan. 18, in time for participation in the inaugural festivities planned for Jan. 20.

A Chinese-language newspaper report said yesterday that Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and a few legislative representatives would also be joining Lee on the trip.

While Foreign Ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) had refrained earlier yesterday from confirming or denying reports of Lee's trip to Washington, he verified the reports after Lee's confirmation of details.

Lu said, however, that they were still in the process of completing plans and that changes were still possible. He did not confirm whether Wu would accompany Lee on the trip, or if Wu planned to meet with US officials or academics regarding US-Taiwan ties.

Lu said that the details of the Taiwanese delegation's trip to Washington would be finalized by tomorrow at the earliest, adding that there was not much time left.

In 2001, the Taiwanese delegation was led by Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) who had delivered a letter to US President George W. Bush on behalf of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Wang had handed the letter to Richard Bush, head of the American Institute in Taiwan at the time, who had in turn given the letter to Bush. The letter had called for enhanced arms sales and better communication between Taiwan and the US.

A group of about 30 legislators, as well as party and legislative aides traveled to Washington for Bush's inauguration in 2001 and had taken the opportunity to meet with US think tanks, government officials and Congressmen to discuss the direction of US-Taiwan ties under the then newly inaugurated Bush and his administration.

It comes as no surprise that Lee should be appointed by Chen to lead Taiwan's group of representatives to Bush's inauguration ceremonies. Lee has represented the president at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings on several occasions and has come to be seen as the president's personal ambassador.

The respected Nobel laureate in chemistry said that he is going to Washington for no other purpose but to be an envoy at the inauguration.

Lee said he will leave discussions on Taiwan-US relations and related issues to other members of his delegation.

"I don't know about this part," he said, addressing the question on which issues concerning Taiwan-US relations will be discussed during the visit.

Lee will leave Washington on Jan. 22 to return to Taiwan.

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